DeSantis signs bill banning balloon releases in Florida

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill Monday that bans people from intentionally releasing balloons into the air in a new conservation effort.
The bill intends to minimize the number of balloons flying over the ocean and washing ashore.
According to the legislation, starting July 1, people who are caught intentionally releasing balloons could face a $150 fine.
Children 6 years or younger are exempt from the penalties, but groups at memorials or parties could be fined, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Linda Chaney (R), who said she supported the measure for ocean conservation reasons.
“Our beaches are the greatest asset that Florida has, and not releasing a balloon is an easy way to protect our waterways and our wildlife,” she said, per the Times. “A released balloon is damaging and there’s nothing good about it.”
The outlet noted that before signing the legislation, DeSantis was apprehensive that it could be a new avenue to fine Floridians. Chaney told the outlet that he was particularly worried about children receiving fines.
The Times reported that an unusual lineup of lobbyists supported the measure, including the Sierra Club and cattle farmers, who say balloons can be mistaken for food by animals.
Hot air balloons, balloons released indoors and balloons released on behalf of a governmental agency for scientific or meteorological purposes are excluded from the penalty.
DeSantis’s signature now means the state’s litter laws have been updated to include the intentional release of balloons.
The Hill has reached out to DeSantis for comment.

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